How has the County Laois responded? (An overview)
An Age Friendly County has been described as a county that recognises the great diversity among older people and promotes their inclusion in all areas of community life. It is a county that respects older people’s decisions and lifestyle choices and responds to related needs and preferences. Laois County Council recognises that older people are a valuable resource and have much experience and resources to assist the county’s growth.
The Laois Age Friendly County Programme was launched in July, 2014. The Laois County Age Friendly Alliance, an inter-agency planning Alliance, has been established to oversee the implementation of the initiative at county level. In Laois the following stakeholders are involved, An Garda Siochana, the HSE, Local Link, Laois Partnership, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois/Offaly Education & Training Board, Laois Older People’s Forum and Laois County Council.
LAOIS AGE FRIENDLY COUNTY STRATEGY 2016-2021
The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016 – 2021 is a framework plan designed to create a county where everyone, including older people are valued and respected. It seeks to improve the quality of lives of people over the age of 55 in County Laois and sets out specific actions to be taken under the 8 (WHO) Themes that target areas designed to improve the quality of life of older people in County Laois. This strategy is a direct response to the views gathered from 283 older people over the age of 55 years in County Laois. It provides the structure for cross-sector cooperation which is essential to improve the quality of life for older people in Laois. The strategy outlines that whilst Laois County Council have taken a leadership role in the development of the strategy, a multi-agency approach will be undertaken in an effort to address the issues and challenges that have arisen through the consultation process.
Our ambition to be Age Friendly means that Laois will:-
• Become a great place to grow old.
• Have easily accessible public buildings, shops and services.
• Incorporate older people’s views into significant decisions being made about Laois.
• Promote a positive attitude to ageing and address stereotypes about older people.
• Create opportunities for older people to be engaged with their county socially, as employees and as volunteers.
AGE FRIENDLY PARKING SPACES
Age Friendly car parking spaces have been provided at Laois Shopping Centre in Portlaoise and outside the Post Office in Lyster Square, Portlaoise. Portarlington has three spaces, one in Market Square, one on Main Street and one in Centra carpark. Mountmellick has two spaces at the MDA. Graiguecullen has one space at Doyles of the Shamrock just off the Portlaoise road roundabout. The Gandon Inn and Treacy’s Bar and Restaurant on the Heath have an Age Friendly car parking space each and it is hoped that more private Age Friendly car parking spaces will be put in place around the county particularly near the supermarkets.
Anyone over the age of 55 can avail of the spaces but they are intended to accommodate the less mobile or less agile over 55s. These spaces are courtesy spaces only and will still be paid parking and will be patrolled by the Traffic Wardens.
Age Friendly Parking car stickers are available free of charge by contacting Geraldine Moore Delaney, Laois Age Friendly Co-Ordinator, Community Development Section, Laois County Council, County Hall, Portlaoise or by email email@example.com or phone 057 86 64107.
A walkability audit involves a group of people getting together and walking planned routes in order to assess how easy or difficult it is to walk/access that route. Walkability audits are a great way of understanding how a town works for people of all abilities, and how it could be improved.
The audit assesses areas like how easy it is to cross the road, if the footpaths are level, if there is any street furniture blocking the way, what the bus stops are like. It is recommended that older people with a mixture of abilities undertake the walkability in order to maximise the audit findings. Consultation is at the heart of the audit process. Walkability audits are one of the methods used to collect data from people to understand how their town works for them and how it could be improved. The walkability audit tool has been developed and guidelines created which are available to local authorities and community groups who would like to conduct audits in their local areas.
To date Walkability Audits have taken place in Abbeyleix and Portarlington and will take place in Mountmellick at the beginning of May.
INFORMATION GUIDE TO SERVICES FOR OLDER PEOPLE IN COUNTY LAOIS
The Information Guide was produced to address the information needs of older people, in particular the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community. This Information Guide will help create more awareness of the services and support available for older people in the county. Having information more readily available will enhance the lives of older people who make a valuable contribution to our society.
It provides advice and information on entitlements, health, housing, home service supports and maintenance, safety and security, social and leisure activities, transport, support groups, useful numbers and contact details and so on. It will be of practical benefit to older people and the organisations and services working with them.
The information in this guide is presented in a clear colour coded format making it easy to use and is free of charge to the over 55s.
AGE FRIENDLY BUSINESS RECOGNITION SCHEME
There are more than one million older (60+) people living and shopping in Ireland. 50% of consumer spending is by people over 60. Over 65’s have €10 billion to spend in Ireland each year.
Most Age Friendly practices are low or zero cost. Simple changes such as making a business easier to find, enter, move around and make purchases in are good for customers and better for business.
By advertising a business as an Age Friendly Business, this is letting older people know that their custom is valued and you are committed to serving them.
Join the Age Friendly Business community today. This recognition allows customers to identify you as an Age Friendly Business and publicises your business to older consumers. 46 businesses across Laois have taken part in the Business Recognition Programme and are now classed as Age Friendly Businesses.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
The Message in a Bottle is an emergency information scheme which includes an Information Form containing accurate relevant medical and other information relating to the Bottle recipient. The Information Form simply directs the emergency services to information stored in a plastic bottle which is kept in the fridge: vulnerable people or those with a medical condition can enter their details on the form which is inside the bottle. It will also include a photograph, health details, emergency contact, and doctor, where there are pets that need looking after and much more which will assist the emergency services.
The scheme is free to the user. As a minimum it will save the Emergency Services valuable time identifying the patient and their emergency contacts.
By stating whether the patient has special medication or allergies etc., it is a potential lifesaver and provides peace of mind to the user and their friends and families. With the bottle come three green stickers, one for inside the front door, one for inside the back door and one for the fridge door. The Emergency Services will see them and know there is additional vital information available.
For further information on any of the above items or about the Age Friendly Programme in general please contact Geraldine Moore Delaney, Laois Age Friendly Co-Ordinator, Community Development Section, Laois County Council, County Hall, Portlaoise, Co. Laois – 057 86 64107 or firstname.lastname@example.org